Introduction [Why The Other Israel]
Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace ICIPP
ICIPP Dialogue with PLO - after Sartawi
The Israeli Peace Movement
A Month of Protests on Lebanon
A Growing Trend Against the War in Israeli Public
Plight of the Jaffa Arabs
The Commuter Settlements
"April Fools in May" by Yossi Amitai
comment on the Israeli-Lebanese Agreement
Newsletter of the Israeli Council for
Editor: Adam Keller
Editorial Board: Uri Avnery, Matti Peled, Yaakov Arnon, Haim Bar'am,
Yael Lotan, Yossi Amitai
This is the first issue of The Other Israel, newsletter of The
Israeli Council For Israeli-Palestinian Peace (ICIPP). We, members of
that council, believe that problems of the Middle East are not the
exclusive concern of the region's Peoples, but world problems. The
growing involvement of both superpowers in the Middle-East; the
concentration of economic and strategic interests; the emotional ties
of the monotheistic religions to The Holy Land; the efforts of both The
Zionist Movement and The Palestinian National Movement in recruiting
world support for their causes - all these factors make it essential
that people of good will everywhere help in the search for a peaceful
solution of the conflict.
Our newsletter is intended for every person, anywhere, who wishes
to lend a hand in achieving this. Ih particular, it is intended for ail
- Jews and Non-Jews who regard themselves as friends of Israel, yet do
not agree with the policies of Israel's Government. We seek to represent
The Other Israel - the Israel of those who reject the role of
oppressors; who recognize that the Palestinian People's
self-determination, far from being a threat, is in fact the only way of
securing the future of Israel; that a Palestinian State in The West Bank
and The Gaza Strip, existing side-by-side with Israel, can be Israel's
partner in making this a prosperous region.
In the Newsletter, we will bring you news of our own activities,
as well as those of other groups in the Israeli peace movement. We will
also bring our own commentaries on major Middle-East events.
This first issue is being prepared at the time of the first
anniversary of The Lebanon War, and the sixteenth anniversary of the Six
Day War. The occasion is being marked by widespread activities of the
Israeli peace movement, on the one hand, and by mounting tension along
the cease-fire lines and a threat of a new war with Syria, on the other.
We are doing our best to spread our message, here and overseas,
in the face of considerable obstacles put up by the strong Annexationist
and Militarist forces, that include not only the Israeli Government,
but also a large part of the Labor party "oposition".
Not only in Israel, but in many other countries, the radio,
television and most of the mass-circulation newspapers are permanently
open to the propaganda of the official Israel. Only with great
difficulty can the other Israel's voice be heard in them. We need your
help and support to enable us to get our message across. We hope to hear
The Editor Tel Aviv, 15.6.83
THE ISRAELI COUNCIL FOR ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE
In December 1975, feeling that important developments in the thinking
of the PLO were being ignored by the Israeli Government, a number of
people organized to form this council. We believed that the PLO had
reached the conclusion that the Middle East conflict could be solved
only through negotiations and mutual recognition. The evidence of this
change of heart was easily available, but the Labor government preferred
to ignore it, so as to avoid having to reconsider its expansionist
policy regarding the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Believing that it
was essential that the leadership of the PLO realize that there are in
Israel people who are aware of their revised attitude, the founders of
the ICIPP convened in Tel Aviv and decided to signal to the PLO that we
were interested in and impressed with their new policy.
In March 1976 the ICIPP published its Manifesto, in which our
solution to the conflict-was outlined. In July 1976 the first meeting
between the Council and the PLO took place in Paris, through the
mediation of a group of dedicated people led by the late Henri Curiel.
Since then the contacts between the ICIPP and the PLO continued
regularly, with the number of the participants on both sides steadily
The objective of the ICIPP is to help bring about frequent and
extensive meetings between Israelis and PLO members in order to discuss
both the ways to bring about a closer cooperation in the , search for
peace, and the nature of the future relations, once peace is achieved,
between Israel and the Palestinian state. It is believed that such
meetings will eventually draw into the process active Israeli
politicians who will realize that contributing in this manner to the
peace process is more constructive than their present fear that talking
with the PLO is a risk they cannot afford. By creating an atmosphere of
friendly discussion, involving Israelis from all walks of life,
individuals from the political mainstream may be encouraged to join the
A start in this direction was made on march 1983, when there was
a meeting in Budapest,between Abu-Iyad, an important PLO leader, and an
Israeli delegation that included, among others, Hana Zemer, editor of
The Labor Party daily "Davar", and Mordechai Bar-On, a member of "Peace
Although both were present in a private capacity, without a mandate to
represent their respective organisations, this is still a big step
forewards, on the road the ICIPP had pioneered.
It is of the utmost importance at this stage to counter the
efforts made by the 'Israeli government to dehumanize the Palestinians
and the PLO, by proving that amicable negotiations can take place, and
that a just solution to the conflict is perceived as feasible and
desirable, by a growing number of Israelis.
THE DIALOGUE - AFTER SARTAWl
The hit-man of the Abu-Nidal group, an anti-PLO terrorist outfit
backed- curiously enough - both by Damascus and Baghdad, who assasinated
Issam Sartawi on April 10, 1983, in Portugal, obviously intended to put
an end to the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.
Sartawi was not only the chief Palestinian official in charge of
these contacts, but also a consistent and outspoken proponent of the PLO
peace line. A man of incredible courage, he took over from Said Hamami,
who started these contacts in 1974, and who was assassinated by the
same terrorist group. But while Hamami's contacts (mainly with Uri
Avnery) were on a personal basis, Sartawi conducted the dialogue from
1976 on with an organisation - the Israeli Council for Israeli
Palestinian Peace (see separate article).
This dialogue reached it's highest point on January 18, 1983 when
a delegation of the ICIPP, consisting of General (res.) Mattitiahu
Peled, former Knesset member Uri Avnery and former Director General of
the Finance Ministry, Yaakov Arnon, met with a PLO delegation consisting
of PLO chairman Yassir Arafat, Executive Council member Abu-Maazen
(Mahmud Abbas), Imad Shakkur and Sartawi, who was instrumental in
bringing this meeting about. A joint statement about the meeting was
published simultaneously in Tunis and Tel-Aviv, declaring that the PLO
and the ICIPP would seek to collaborate for the common goal of
achieving a permanent and just peace in the Middle East.
These contacts gave rise to a violent debate during the session
of the Palestinian National Council - the Palestinian parliament in
exile - which met on February, in Algiers. While many PLO moderates
thought Sartawi too undiplomatic and outspoken, there was no doubt that
the great majority of the delegates approved of the contacts, a point
which was underlined by the official Fatah speaker, Abu-Iyad (Salah
Halaf). A member of the ICIPP, the Israeli journalist Amnon Kapeliuk,
was present at these deliberations, as a representative of French and
After the assassination of Sartawi, concern about the future of
the dialogue was voiced in many quarters. These were laid to rest on May
5, when Uri Avnery and the PLO representative in Rome were scheduled to
appear together at a public meeting in Turin. Instead, Chairman Arafat
sent a member of his personal staff, Imad Shakur, to represent him at
the meeting, in order to signal his clear determination to continue and
enlarge the dialogue. These contacts were, of course, one of the points
at issue during the recent confrontation between Fatah "rebels" in
Lebanon and the PLO-Fatah leadership.
A moving memorial meeting for Sartawi was held in Tel-Aviv on
May 31. A large portrait of the late PLO leader was displayed, together
with the emblem of the ICIPP, consisting of the crossed flags of Israel
and Palestine. Israeli and Palestinian personalities took part. After
the meeting, a curious thing happened. Police officers, who attended the
meeting in order to prevent violent provocations, confiscated the
emblem of the Council and opened criminal proceedings against Avnery and
Peled, claiming that the displaying of the Palestinian flag, even in
this form, constitutes a criminal offence.
Other recent activities:
* Members of the ICIPP intervened when Israeli authorities denied
permission to inter the req1ains of Wajiah Husseini in Jerusalem. Mrs.
Husseini, who died in London at the age of 76, was the widow of Abd-el
Kader Husseini, legendary commander of the Palestinian irregular forces
during the 1948 war,who was killed during the battle for the Kastel,
near Jerusalem. After protestations,permission for the interment was
granted, and the funeral took place in Jerusalem.
of the ICIPP
and the Shelli-alternative party took part in a
demonstration outside the Dan Hotel in Tel-Aviv, where a party was given
by the Minister of Industry and Commerce in honour of a South-African
trade delegation. The protesters dernanded to cutoff all relations,
commercial and other, with the racist Pretoria regime.
* Several members of the ICIPP took part in meetings abroad.
Yaakov Arnon, Matti Peled and Haim Bar'am undertook extensive lecture
tours in the United States; Uri Avnery was invited to lecture in
Cambridge (England), the Hague, Turin and Copenhagen, and was also
called to address the Green party in Bonn.
THE ISRAELI PEACE MOVEMENT
The Israeli peace movement is far from being a homogeneous body. It is
made up of several groups and organisations, of various political
platforms, methods of operation, and, of course, sizes, each with its
own special role.
They can be roughly divided into two categories: the radical and
On the moderate side, the dominant body is "Peace Now", which is
also the biggest and most widely known, both in Israel and
internationally. "Peace Now", originally founded after president Sadat's
visit to Jerusalem, when it bacame clear that the Begin Government was
not responding to his initiative, has become a permanent feature of
Israeli political life. Only "Peace Now" can mobilise demonstrators by
the humdreds of thousands. Its importance is, therefore,immense.
However, "Peace Now" has paid for its size and influential
position by espousing a vague political program. This enables it to act
,as an umbrella organisation and accomodate the greatest number of
supporters who can agree among themselves and particiPilte in a joint
effort. The leaders of "Pe~ce Now" are anxious not to antagonize
potential supporters in the political center, particularly among Labor
Party members and voters. For this reason, "Peace Now" delegations
refused to meet with representatives of the PLO, such as the late Dr.
Sartawi. For the same reason, the "Peace Now" program does not refer to
a Palestinian State, but substitutes a vaguer phrase - "the right of the
Palestinians to a national existence".* Also, while "Peace Now" favors
"a partition of Eretz Israel"*, it carefully refrains from mentioning
the 1967 borders.
This policy of "Peace Now", understandable and perhaps
justifiable for practical reasons, explains the essential role of those
more radical peace groups, articulating a clear peace plan, including a
recognition of the PLO and a return to the 1967 borders, even though
this inevitably means limiting their potential following to a far
smaller segment of the Israeli public.
One such group is our own Council For Israeli.Palestinian Peace,
which has concentrated on the task of legitimizing contacts with the PLO
in Israeli public opinion.
When it comes to organizing radical demonstrations, the ICIPP
generally supports "The Committee Against The War In Lebanon" (CAWL).
Originally formed as "The Committee For Solidarity With Bir-Zeit
University" at the end of 1981, when that West Bank University was
closed by the military authorities, this committee has grown swiftly
into a body uniting all the currents in Israel who accept its program of
negotiations with the PLO and a peace based on the creation of a
Palestinian state in The West Bank and The Gaza Strip. With regard to
Lebanon, the committee totally opposed the invasion from the start, and
has consistently demanded complete and immediate withdrawal by The
An important feature of the CAWL is the national composition of its
membership, In contrast to "Peace Now", which is an exclusively Jewish
movement, the CAWL's members are both Jews and Arabs, who regard joint
day-to- day participation in political activities as an important step
A third radical peace group is called "Yesh Gvul" (meaning both
"there is a border" and "there is a limit"), a group numbering about
2,000 reserve soldiers who demand not to be sent into Lebanon. The group
concentrates on helping members who are court-martialed for refusing to
go to Lebanon. So far, 61 soldiers have been given jail sentences, and
14 are imprisoned at the moment. Their number is steadily growing, and
so is the public acceptance of their actions. As a result,the Army
Authorities have adopted a more and more harsh attitude towards
imprisoned soldiers. Recently, a judge of the
* The quotes are taken from the "Peace Now" program, published in
English on Octoberl982, and available at P.O.B. l08, Jerusalem.
Jerusalem District Court has created a big controversary by joining
publicly the "Yesh Gvul" group.
The importance of the radical groups became evident at the
beginning of The Lebanon War. In the first weeks of the war, "Peace Now"
was paralised. Most of its leaders felt that, while they were opposed
to the war -which was expected to be very short - they should remain
silent until the fighting was over. Before 1982, a public protest
during a war was considered unthinkable in Israel. It was,
therefore, The Committee Against The War In Lebanon which broke the
taboo and roused public opinion against the war. Starting from a small
demonstration on June 8th, 1982 (the third day of the war) which was
violently dispersed by the police, through a series of demonstrations
and petitions, The CAWL succeeded in bringing out about 20,000 people
on June 26th. Many of these were "Peace Now" supporters, frustrated by
their own movement's silence. This stirred up the "Peace Now"
leadership, which a week later, on July 3rd, held a demonstration of
100,000 people. The protest snowballed, and The Labor Alignment's
Doves' (who are closely connected to "Peace Now") swung the whole of The
Labor Party, which had supported the war at the beginning. The result
was the giant demonstration of 400,000 people in Tel- Aviv, after The
Sabra and Shatila,Massacres.
The cooperation with The Labor Party is, however, a very
problematic one for The Peace Movement. This was seen in february 1983,
in the - aftermath of The Cahan Commissions's report. In the first,
crucial, days after the report was released, the Peace Now leaders
waited for Labor's reaction, and instead of calling for a giant
demonstration (for which they wanted Labor's cooperation), they settled
for smaller ones. It was only after the fatal grenade attack on one of
these, that a giant, joint "Peace.Now".Labor demonstration was decided
However, a few days before it could take'place, The Labor
Misleaders lost their nerve, and some of them decided to try joining the
government and creating a so-called "Government Of National Unity" with
the Likud, Because of this, they seized on the handy excuse of bad
weather, to call off the demonstration. For "Peace Now" it was too late
to organise a separate event; also, after the public had been led to
expect a gigantic turnout, it was feared that anything less would be
considered a failure.
Thus, the Israeli Peace Movement may have lost an opportunity to
topple The Likud Government, and had to settle for the replacement of
Sharon by Arens - a man no less extremist than his predecessor, for all
his "moderate" image.
The lesson for The Peace Movement is clear: cooperation with
large political parties may be useful and even effective on particular
occasions, but it must not become a dependance. "Peace Now" must
preserve its freedom of action form The Labor Party, and The Radical
Groups ~ their independance from "Peace Now". Only in this way can the
struggle for peace move foreward.'
A MONTH OF PROTESTS ON LEBANON
The continuing guerrila war in Lebanon, in whith Israeli soldiers
are almost daily killed and wounded,_has caused an increasing concern in
Israeli public opinion. At the beginning of May, Zvi Ginzburg, a man
who lost his son in Lebanon and who had supported the war in its initial
stages, started a sit-in strike in front of The Prime Minister's home,
demanding the return of the soldiers from Lebanon. He was soon joined
by a group of medical students, who as reserve soldiers have seen some
of the bloodiest fighting in Lebanon. (The strike is still going on at
the time this is being written, more than a month after its start).
A few days later, the mother of a soldier serving in Lebanon
wrote a letter to the newspapers, calling on other soldiers' parents to
unite. She immediately received hundreds of responses. Thus was born a
new movement, "Parents Against Silence". Its power lies not in a
concrete political program, which it does not have, but in focusing and
giving vent to the feelings of thousands of parents, many of whom had
never before engaged in any political activity. In an interview printed
in a Tel-Aviv paper on 3.6.83, one member of the movement said she was a
Likud supporter and had opposed the former demonstrations against the
war, but "now I can't stand it any longer".
Meanwhile, the various groups in the Peace Movement have stepped
up their activities towards the first anniversary of The Lebanon War,
which is also the sixteenth anniversary of The Six-Day-War. During the
week preceeding the 4th of June, there were scores of meetings and
On sunday, the 29th of May, "Peace Now" began a week-long protest
march, from the Lebanese Border to Tel-Aviv. On the same day, The
Committee Against The War In Lebanon (CAWL) held public meetings in
Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. On May 30, several thousands soldier's
parents demonstrated in front of the Knesset in Jerusalem. The following
day, our Council For Israeli Palestinian Peace held a meeting in memory
of the late Dr. Sartawi, to emphasize the Palestinian dimension of the
struggle (see separate article).
On June 1, CAWL members set up tables on street-corners in
israel's big cities, collecting signatures on a petition calling for
withdrawal from Lebanon and negotiations with the PLO.
On June 2, hundreds of students, both Arabs and Jews,
demonstrated at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, against the
appearence and speech of Rafael Eitan, the former chief-of-staff known
for his extreme right-wing views. The students were violently ejected by
On the same day, there was a demonstration by the "Yesh Gvul"
group in front of the defence ministry in Tel-Aviv, demanding the
release of the soldiers jailed for refusing to go to Lebanon.
THE FOLLOWING IS THE TEXT OF THE
RESOLUTION ADOPTED BY THE ICIPP
EXECUTIVE ON ITS 28/6/83 SESSION,
AND PUBLISHED IN "JERUSALEM POST"
AND "HA'ARETZ" ON 1/7/83.
ISRAEL AND THE PLO MUTINY
Once again, we are seeing automatic cooperation between the Arab
rejectionist front, with its allies among PLO extremists, and the
Israeli rejectionist front, which runs our government.
The Syrian government and its agents in the PLO have declared war on
the PLO leadership, in order to destroy the independence of the
Palestinian national movement. They accuse Yasser Ararat of
following a policy leading to recognition of Israel, and a peace
settlement with her. One of the extremists' demands is the termination
of the dialogue between the PLO and Israeli peace forces. Israeli
Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, and other Israeli officials, and also
certain spokesmen of the Labour "Opposition" cannot conceal their
delight. They openly voice their hope that the extremists will take over
the PLO, and put an end to the moderate policies of its present
leadership. In the last few years, the PLO leadership has indicated many
times to Israel and the United states its readiness for a political
solution. The present situation proves that these messages were genuine
and sincere. Otherwise, the PLO extremists would never have rebelled as
The Israel government has ignored all the signals from the
Palestinian side - some of which were conveyed through the Israel
Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, whose members have met with
Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian leaders. One of the real goals of
the Lebanon war was to put an end to the moderate policies of the PLO,
which may have awakened in Israeli and world opinion a belief in the
possibility of an historic reconciliation. Now the Begin-Shamir
government hopes that this goal has been attained - with Syrian help.
Had this goal been achieved, it would have destroyed all chances for
peace for many years; it would have led to more wars, and untold
bloodshed and destruction. .
The Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace hopes that the
PLO will retain its independence, despite the onslaught mounted against
it - and that it will articulate a clear and unequivocal policy of
Israeli-Palestinian coexistence, on the basis of self-determination, and
the Palestinian people's right to an independent state of its own,
alongside - and at peace with - Israel.
We call on the Israel governrpent to declare its readiness to
recognize the PLO, and seek a peace agreement, based on coexistence
between two states in this one land.
The Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace P.O.B. _, Tel Aviv
All who concur with these views are invited to contribute towards the
cost of this advertisement.
On June 4, two demonstrations took place: the first was organised
by the CAWL, ephasizing in its slogans the connection between the old
occupation in The West Bank and Gaza and the new occupation in Lebanon,
both of which stem from the same refusal to talk with the Palestinians.
Afterwards, the CAWL demonstrators joined a giant "Peace Now"
rally, at which about 150,000 people took part. This was the largest
turnout ever at a demonstration held by "Peace Now" independantly,
without the participation of The Labor Party. Also, the tone of some
",Peace Now" speakers was more radical than at previous demonstrations,
clearly reflecting the mood of their listeners.
On the morning of June 5th, a group of reserve soldiers, who had
served in Lebanon, demonstrated in front of The Prime Minister's office
during the cabinet meeting, booing the arriving ministers. Afterwards,
they publicly returned the special Lebanon War Ribbons, which they had
On saturday, June 11th, when the news came out that three
soldiers have been killed in Lebanon, bringing the total number to 500,
several hundreds of "Peace Now" members gathered in front of Mr. Begin's
home and held a silent vigil. The permanent sit-in strike at the same
place has entered its second month.
At one of the soldiers' funerals, shown on television, the
deceased's brother started cursing the government, for which he had
voted. At another funeral, held at a northern kibbutz, kibbutz members
refused, as an act of protest, to allow Army representatives to
participate in the funeral.
All these demonstrations, and the noticeable change in public
opinion (see separate article) have already had an effect on the
political establishment. The Labor Party. has adopted a new plan,
calling for an unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon within three months.
This demand should not be taken at face value, as Labor's plan really
means a continued Israeli presence in South Lebanon, under the guise of
"Major Haddad's Militia" (Haddad was initially installed there by a
Labor Government). However, it is obvious that Labor's opportunistic
leaders realise that withdrawal from Lebanon is now a popular demand.
Even the Prime Minister has been forced to pay some lip-service to the
idea of withdrawal, in his recent Knesset Speech. Mr. Begin has
also been known to complain, in a cabinet meeting, that the
demonstrations near bis house are getting on his nerves. Meanwhile,
several ministers have started a wave of public accusations and
counter-accussations, trying to saddle each other with responsibility
for the war.
In this situation, the task of The Israeli Peace Movement is not
to let up, to increase as much as possible the pressure on the
government until the last Israeli soldier leaves Lebanon.
This cartoon, printed in
7/6/83, comments on the present situation of the Israeli Governmen.t
A GROWING TREND AGAINST THE WAR IN ISRAELI PUBLIC
A series of public opinion polls, conducted during the past year, shows
a clear trend of growing disapprouval of The Lebanese War.
In the opinion polls, published by the Israeli Weekly "Koteret
Rashit" (Headline) on May 25, a question was put: "Was it right or wrong
for Israel" to go to war in Lebanon, given the achievements of the war
and the price paid?"
The answers were: June '82 October '82
January '82 May '83
It was right to
It should be noted that the IsraeliLebanese-American agreement, signed
before the May '83 poll, has not affected this trend.
PLIGHT OF THE JAFFA ARABS
The Arab residents of Jaffa, who have known a great deal of
hardship and neglect by the authorities, are now faced with a serious
new threat. The Tel-Aviv-Jaffa municipality is preparing to transform
the Arab quarters of Ajjami and Jebileah into a high-class Jewish
residential neighborhood and tourist center.
In response, there was formed in December 1982 a citizens' group,
calling itself The Jewish-Arab Action committee For The Arabs of Jaffa.
Working closely with local Jaffa citizens' group and the league of
Jaffa's Arabs, it supports the right of Jaffa's Arab residents to remain
in their neighborhoods, and to receive the public services and
assistance that all citizens of The State of Israe1 are entitled to.
At the time Of the Israeli War Of Independence, in 1948, the Arab
population of Jaffa numbered 120,000. Of these, there remain today only
about 15,000. They are being denied various municipal services and the
building permits necessary to make minor structural repairs. In February
1982, representatives of Jaffa's Arab population appeared before The
Knesset Economic Committee to report on their community's deteriorating
socio-economic situation: There is a 50%, truancy rate, a marked
increase in the use of drugs, a spiraling crime rate, and a severe
At that meeting, the Knesset Committee proposed a five -year
rehabilitation plan. However, no funds have, so far, been allocated for
the implementation of that plan, and the situation is growing worse.
Residents repairing their disintegrating homes without a permit are
faced with heavy fines, the destruction of the repair, and even prison
sentences. This policy is regarded by the citizens' groups as part of a
larger government plan to uproot the Arab citizens from their homes.
The Jewish-Arab Action Committee is planning an international
work camp and day-care program, to be held in Jaffa from July 23 to
August 6, 1983. It is intended to bring together Arab and Jewish youth
and to perform needed services that are not being delivered by The
Municipality, and local engineerS and architects are working on an
alternative development plan that will take into consideration the needs
of the local Arab residents.
For further information write to:
The Jewish-Arab Action Committee For The
Arabs of Jaffa, P.O.Box 078, Jaffa, Israel
THE COMMUTER SETTLEMENTS
About a year ago, a radical change took place in the Israeli
governement's policy of building settlements in the occupied
territories. Government planners realized that only a small number of
nationalist-religious zealots, of the "Gush Emunim" type, were willing
to settle in the occupied territories for purely ideological reasons.
Since the government's plans called for mass settlement, a different
method had to be devised. The new method took advantage of the fact that
Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, like big cities everywhere, have been growing
outwards, in wider suburban rings. This tendency was strenghtened and
channeled into the Occupied Territories, by applying pressures and
inducements on the building industry to cut back housing construction
within the pre-'67 borders of Israel, and by means of unprecedented
subsidies to invest all their resources in the occupied territories.
Thus, it is becoming harder for an ordinary Israeli citizen to
find a house anywhere but in the occupied territories.
Similarly, many industrialists have found that to get government
loans and subsidies, they have to move their plants into the occupied
This policy created a boom of private-enterprise settlements,
with major housing contractors publishing two -and three - page ads in
the newspapers, to entice buyers to The West Bank. Besides the promised
low-cost and high-quality housing, the most emphasized feature of each
new settlement is its proximity to a big urban center, so that
prospective settlers will be able to commute to work inside Israel.
It should be noted that among the individuals and companies lured
by the scent of easy money in the new settlements are not only
government supporters, but also many who are closely associated with the
Labor "opposition". For example, the Nofim" ("Landscapes")
company, one of the first to take advantage of the new policy, is owned
by a former Labor deputy-Mayor of Givataim. The law office of Haim
Zadok, a former Minister of Justice in the Labor Government provides
legal counsel to companies building new settlements in the occupied
territories. What is worse - "Solel-Boneh", the giant construction
company belonging to the Histadrut (the trade union federation, which
is Labor's Stronghold) is also participating actively in building these
settlements. When this activity was challeged, both the Histadrut
Central Committee and the Labor Party bureau voted, by a large
majority, to continue it. Once again, material considerations prevailed
The means of obtaining land for the new settlements are various
and shady. The transactions are usually secret, involving all sorts of
middle-men and "straw-men" to conceal the identity of the sellers. If,
in the course of such a transaction, land is sold by someone who is not
its legal owner, the autorities turn a blind eye and if necessary
enforce the false owner's claim.
One such case came to light on May 3: In a small village called
Bidia, several farmers discovered that their land had been sold to
settlers without their knowledge. They went to the Nablus court and
obtained an injuction, but this was ignored by the settlers, who
continued to "develop" the land. When the farmers tried to stop the
works on their land, police and other armed forces opened fire on them,
killing one man and wounding two others (Ha'aretz, 3/5/83).
However, when it transpired that many building companies were
using fraudulent methods not only against the Arabs, but against their
Israeli customers as well, the situation became embaressing for the
building companies and the government. The government is now planning a
new set of regulations, governing the sale of land in the occupied
territories. Some government circles are also offering as a scape goat
the deputy minister of agriculture, Michael Dekel, who was accused in
the media of over-cooperation with the building companies. It remains to
be seen whether these measures will be enough to save the government's
new settlement policy.
APRIL FOOLS IN MAY
It is said that a clever man knows how to get out of a mess that a wise
man would never get into.
The Israeli Government has recently proved once again that it is
neither wise nor clever. The Israeli-Lebanese Agreement, obtained by
U.S. Secretary Of State, George Shultz, illustrates the extraordinary
stupidity of the Israeli Government.
What is now known of the contents of that agreement proves that
the government was lying to the Israeli people and to the whole world,
about the real goals of the inexcusable Lebanese adventure. This bears
out everything that peace groups in Israel, including our council, have
said all along.
Secondly, it is very doubtful if this agreement will ever be
implemented. From the beginning of the war, Israel has repeatedly
declared that she is not waging war against Lebanon, nor against Syria
("unless Syria initiated a confrontation With the IDF") but only against
the so-called "PLO terrorism". What, then, is the use of signing an
agreement with the Lebanese Government, which is totally incapable of
enforcing its authority on vast portions of its own country, and
against which Israel has never fought? Can such an agreement bring
about the withdrawal of the Syrian and PLO forces from Lebanon, while
those two sides have not been parties to the negotiations? Israel, we
should recall, is determined not to talk to the PLO, under any
Thirdly, that agreement has again proved, if further proof was
needed, that the government's true objective namely, the political
annihilation of the PLO, to clear the way for the formal Israeli
annexation of the occupied Palestinian territories is simply
unattainable (as well as being both immoral and illegal).
The Israeli government, then, is neither wise nor clever. It was not
wise enough to stay out of the mess, nor is it clever enough to get out
Israel should not have invaded Lebanon at all. Instead, she
should have used the achievement of the tacit cease-fire agreement with
the PLO on the northern border (from July 1981) as the start of a
dialogue with that organisation, which is the unquestioned
representative of the Palestinian People. An overall solution for the
Palestinian issue, which is the core of the entire Middle-East Conflict,
can not be achieved by othermeans. But the Israeli Government deluded
itself that it had the power to put a violent end to the national
aspirations of the Palestinian People. Now, we are witnessing the
catastrophic results of such a distorted mentality.
But having embarked on that misguided adventure, the government
should at least find a way of getting out of it without further harm.
Unfortunatly, it seems incapable of doing even that....
Yossi Amitai _ Kibbutz Gvuloth